Marketplaces Creative Clusters Collaborations and Competition a value proposition for Black Creatives.

The times they are a-changin’.

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The badasse ListRepeat after me Collaboration is not competition.  Clusters are a type of Collaboration strategy that can help your business.  So what’s a cluster.

  1. A business cluster is a geographic concentration of interconnected businesses, suppliers, and associated institutions in a particular field. Clusters are considered to increase the productivity with which companies can compete, nationally and globally. …

It can be a simple curated directory such as the  BADASSE LIST, of and for site members,  I’m currently pulling together  or as in NY, where there are districts. The garment district, the flower district … these are clusters. Being in a cluster does NOT lessen your chances of success. Marketplaces of individual businesses , online or offline,  are  a type of cluster, a type of collaborative business strategy.

First how collaboration works…
put yourself in the place of the shopper. If you need to find something where do you go.

  • Consider this… you want dinner… You’re not sure exactly what… will you go to the location that has only one choice or would you go to the area that had several to choose from.
  • If you wanted a bag to go out would you go to the area with only one store or would you go where there are a number of stores that you can shop’
  • If you were shopping for holiday gifts… would you go to the area that only had one or would you go where there were several options
  • “Restaurant row” works and studies show that restaurant in a cluster do BETTER than those that stand Alone.
  • Marketplaces… are a Type of Cluster…

Being in a Cluster is a collaborative business strategy That benefits YOUR business. again, think of Offline marketplaces.

Changing what we believe a word means… 

There are many misguided concepts that affect the creative’s bottom line. My role as a creative Business consultant is to help shape that strategy. I specialize in niche businesses and integrating or addressing  core values and beliefs systems while adopting  technology. Ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation,  culture, religion and others life factors affect how we strategize. Often it’s not the  obvious that  is the wall a small business, needs  get around but rather inner “voices’ or beliefs.

More often or not they reveal themselves when  the client is pushed for an honest answer. Ownership is one such issue and with Black and especially female entrepreneurs OWNERSHIP, ENTITLEMENT is a huge factor.

I ask, rather I INSIST, that all creatives get their own site, but I also suggest that they have a presence on marketplaces. Which and how they choose, and what they put there is part of an individual’s business strategy.

REPEAT after me….Collaboration is NOT COMPETITION.

I remember when 4W Circle of Art and Enterprise closed a while back everyone blamed “gentrification’ It was not that simple. Why have those artist not come together in another area… the same reason the store could not survive. They could not collaborate.  Each saw themselves in competition with the other.

Today I was reminded of a debate my aunt and I had a couple weeks back. My Aunt had voiced a concern about not being able to find “Black” designers, “in one Place” and point out asked me why.  I’ve been asked why there wasn’t a black “Etsy” or “Ever notice there is NO Black marketplace online (there actually are I am sure but there are other issues) of say knitting artisan, crochet artisans, crafters, Vintage”. I responded across the board black businesses are uncomfortable in collaborative or group situations. Which lead to a heated debate…

I work at solving business issue… The Black and especially the black creative community is one of my niches areas. My  experience is first hand, not hear say. Here are some of the  reasons I’ve been given.

Why are Black Creatives afraid to be associated with a black marketplace.
Reasons I’ve been given…

  • the competition will harm my business
  • I’m afraid I’ll lose my existing customers,
  • these businesses owners do not understand the business of selling niche craft & products. ( i’ll own this one”
  • these marketplaces do not serve their customers. (and this one is my pet peeve)
  • I refuse to work for anyone…
  • Being defined as “black” will cut off opportunity, if  I’am with your project  I’ll be typecast as “black” ( my response, “white’ who work with me are not called “Black”, get real.)

Today I’ll take on the “competition” issue.


If I’m looking  for a plus sized dress and store  A does not have it ,  I’ve found that store A may  know someone who does. If you do not have what I want… you did not lose a sale.  My not seeing someone who has the product, doe snot benefit you in any way.  On the other hand If  I  bought a dress from  a I  may  find earrings at B and the shoe at  c. Or I may  be wavering on a blouse at  A , walk away and see the right skirt next  door at B… Items Sold.
Now a marketplace has the responsibility of attracting  shoppers in it’s niche. Those shoppers that may not be your customer. You  will gain customers when you meet their needs.

The core value in any business…

How well you serve need or desire

The only  competition  is yourself.
You can choose  clusters (offline and online) as a primary or secondary,  sourcing,  production, sales and distribution or advertising strategy. It’s one of the topics explored in my creative entrepreneurial workshops and strategy sessions, and I’m  simply skimming the issue here. There is a lot that  goes into whether or not a marketplace is successful, well run or meets your strategic needs. Learning to choose is  part of a business owners skillsets. Keeping tabs of existing  cluster in  your niche  for sourcing,  production, sales and distribution or advertising is one of the first step. It’s one of the areas I’ll be  exploring with members.

If we are to change we will need to redefine language … especially business language and beliefs. Language shapes belief.  We will also have to execute on new beliefs and engage in the marketing and distribution to support new ideas and beliefs.


Look for a part  2

in this even as I  posted this I  was engaged in the topics of


  • Fear, Integrity  and Expectation in Collaborations.
  • “Valuations and vestment” assessing the value  in a business Collaboration



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